Ancient History

Follow Me?



(this is the longest and most overdue post in lifenut history)

A story of faith. Everybody has a story of faith—even if they profess to have none at all. What do you believe? Why?

When I was six months old, I was Christened in the Catholic church where my parents were married three years earlier. My grandmother’s funeral mass took place in the same massive, sublime space. Under a soaring ceiling, soothed by marble, cradled by gorgeous honey-colored woods, lulled by lush flowers, I saw where my faith journey began. In those hard moments I was reminded that I was once cooing in a long white gown, held, blessed. No one cherished me more than God.

But I was not raised Catholic.

My mother grew up attending Protestant churches. She admits she fell away from going to church and pursuing a relationship with God until I was born and we moved into a neighborhood where the moms on the block had a weekly gathering called Bible Study Fellowship. We began going to a Baptist church when I was a small child. I remember the car ride to church featuring a steep winding hill that tickled my tummy every time we crested the top. I remember the church grounds had an underground passage beneath a courtyard. It was scary and mysterious, yet I always liked to ask my mom if we could take that thrilling route. In Sunday School, I was introduced to the felt board, the preferred teaching method of matronly volunteer teachers everywhere. It was in this church, at this Sunday School, where my first conscious impression of church was formed.

Almost exactly two years ago, I shared this story:

Once, when I was about four years old, I was in a classroom and noticed cookies. I ate one. The scolding I received was so severe I still remember it and think unkind thoughts toward the woman who directed it at me. So I began to think of Sunday School as The Place Where You Get Yelled at By Complete Strangers.

Sunday school filled me with dread. It didn’t seem like a safe or gentle place any more, at least in my perception. Was the God they were talking about waiting to yell at me too? We continued attending church there, every Sunday, up and down the hill, wearing tights and pigtails and making sure to only eat cookies with expressed permission from pursed lips.

I had a large children’s Bible, given to me by my parents to commemorate Christmas 1974. I loved looking through the pages at the amazing pictures. The one that struck me the most was a terrifying depiction of Satan tempting Christ in the desert. Satan was ugly, Christ was beautiful and bold, not shrinking from the leers of the enemy. It was this picture I was showing two of my friends, Sarah and Danielle, when my mom overheard this conversation:

Sarah: Well, I am Jewish!

Danielle: I am Catholic!

Me: I’m an American!

I was five years old.

When I was six we moved to the other side of the state. Our new home was Grand Junction, and my late great-grandmother lived there. I had met her a few times but didn’t know her very well. She was quiet and serious. Her house was full of delicate figurines encased behind glass. We weren’t allowed to touch anything. Every Sunday, we drove her to the church she had attended for decades. It was a Disciples of Christ church. Most of the regular attendees were elderly and seemed to delight in having children around. Sunday school classes were small and cozy. I began feeling comfortable and welcomed, cherished and important. It was at this church I graduated from my large and unwieldy (but fabulously illustrated) children’s Bible to a real Bible. I was expected to use it!

I learned the books of the Bible via a catchy song I still hum from time to time. I was finally taught how to look up books, chapters, and verses. How to use concordances and dictionaries. The geography of Bible lands, the timelines, Patriarchs, major stories. I memorized Scripture dutifully, thinking of the story my mom told me about prisoners of war who had no Bibles. But it was okay, because the Word was hidden in their hearts, recalled at a moment’s notice. Scripture was sustaining food for the soul. The years flew by and I grew. Every time I heard the believer’s prayer, I couldn’t help but pray it too. My heart leapt when I witnessed people being baptized. I volunteered to be a candlelighter because I had a great desire to be a part of the services.

My mother spoke in tongues once, when I was literally dying of an asthma attack. I will never forget her arms around me as a language I did not and do not understand to this day came out of her lips furiously and passionately. I realize many people (even some Christians) scoff at this spiritual gifting, but I was there and I know it happened. I was in fourth grade. I never heard her speak in tongues again.

At home, my mother read a book called “Little Visits With God” to us every night. They were devotions and moral stories, and I loved that time. I still have this book today. It is in Aidan’s room and covers everything from racism to obedience to gossip.

In junior high, I joined the youth group known as Chi Rho. We did service projects, studied Passover, took refuge in each other as the teenage years loomed and the pressure was on to conform to the world. When I was fifteen, I was baptized.

In early high school, some very serious issues came to light at the church we had attended for nearly ten years. These weren’t issues my mother felt could be ignored because they flew in the face of Biblical doctrine (for example, a prominent member began claiming she was communicating with the dead). We left the church. It was a sad and hard time because of the relationships and fellowship we had built over the years. My mom found another church for us to attend. It was a non-denominational church with good Biblically-based teaching.

But I didn’t want to go. I resented being taken away from people I had grown to love. In my childish heart, I didn’t see how the experience was critically important. I needed to be moved. The old church was slipping into embracing relativity and things straight out of The Sixth Sense, no longer teaching the Bible but teaching around it to suit their beliefs.

I fought my mom about going every single Sunday morning for nearly two years. My dad didn’t go! Why should I? I know how much it hurt her and realize how she worried. I also know she continued praying for me through those years when I was uber gloomy and had a poster of Robert Smith above my bed. I doubt I cracked open my Bible. But I have fond memories of those years because while I wasn’t fully embracing my faith, I know that God never let go of me. He chased me. I’d have bursts of being on-fire and go right back to turning my back on my faith. I did a lot of teenager-in-the-80s things. I admit, I had a great time. I wasn’t always the picture of angelic behavior, but I was pretty well-behaved and never got into serious trouble. My driving alone proves the existence of angels. It was during those years when I finally began to like where we lived. I began to write. I’d find myself praying again, but only at night when the worries of the day caught up to me. And I continued watching my mother, silently, from the peripheral.

She was a rock. She was unflinching, unfailing, faithful. She was gentle but firm. I never doubted her love, even when I made her so mad her bottom jaw stuck out in that way it does…I watched her read the Bible, daily. I watched her pray, filling up notebook after notebook of prayers answered. She was a prayer warrior. When I worried, I’d ask her to pray for me, with me, holding my hand…we two, gathering in His name.

I went to college at CU-Boulder. I didn’t go to church once. I don’t remember if I took my Bible, which tells me I probably didn’t. I did things there that I should not have done and I didn’t take my newfound freedom seriously. I met a lot of people who weren’t and probably will never be Christians. Shared smokes with them. Studied with them. Road-tripped with them. Liked them. They were nice people. But I never felt like I truly belonged, because I didn’t.

Something was nipping at me. My heart began stirring again—a hunger awakening. Billy Graham calls the Holy Spirit “The hound of Heaven”. Yep.

“Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying This is the way, walk in it.”

~Isaiah 30:21

I let go of Him, but He never let me go. Circumstances, an unpaid library fine that held up my fall schedule, a sense of being fed up, a strong desire to flee—all these things led up to me dropping out of CU after three years. In one afternoon, I disenrolled, quit my job, moved out of the house I was living in with three or four (who knows!) other people, packed my car, got in it, and drove home.

Just. like. that.

I moved back into my skeptical parents’ house. I got a job right away. When the new semester started, I enrolled at our local state college. I met the man who would become my husband and graduated. I went to church with my mom, occasionally. I had to work on Sunday mornings a lot, but when I was free I’d go along. I was tentative and casual, almost shy with God.

About a month after our wedding my husband and I found out a baby was on the way. We were stunned, but excited. It was this blessing that led me back to church. I knew I wanted my baby daughter and all our children to have a strong spiritual beginning. We began going to church regularly. We dusted off our Bibles. We opened them.

And I am glad.

This is my testimony. I have been sustained, comforted, blessed. I have been saved by the blood of Jesus. It’s a free gift for anyone who believes. I will never forget where I came from. I imagine who I’d be without the Grace of God, and I shudder. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. I have a heart for those who grew up in the church, but fell away. That was me. If you are a person fitting this description, you may feel like it is too late, that you’ve done too many bad things—but that isn’t true! God will take you just as you are. He will forgive you, restore you, lift you up. But He will not allow you to stay the same—you must change and follow Him moment-by-moment. It isn’t easy and it isn’t always pretty. You can’t stay where you are and go with God.

One of my favorite songs is “Beautiful Sound” by The Newsboys. The lyrics are a good representation of my walk thus far. A snippet:

To have found You, and still be looking for You,
It’s “the soul’s paradox of love.”
You fill my cup, I lift it up for more.
I won’t stop now that I’m free.
I’ll be chasing You
Like You chase me.

I am a Christian. If you don’t want to read my blog anymore, I wish you well. Really. I’ll be here, writing about tutus and pie and the dog. There will be pretty pictures to see. My heart might be broken, again. It will be restored, again. I may be wildly blessed. This is the record of my walk as a prodigal daughter, inheritance restored. With hope and an eye on eternity, I will write as long as God allows.

33 comments to Testimonial

  • I know now why I feel such a bond with you. We are sisters in the truest sense of the word – in Christ!

  • Sharon

    Thank you for this very beautiful post. It made my day.


  • Jenn

    What an outstanding and inspiring testimony to your walk with Christ. So very well said.

  • Oh, that every Christian would have half the amount of passion you have for the lost.

  • Claire in CA

    Now, I’ll be checking for your posts everyday, sister. Thanks for posting your testimony. As one who was saved in my 20s, I, too, “lived” a little. Though I know I’m forgiven and am a new creation, I sometimes find it hard to relate to my friends who were saved at 5 years old and never strayed. Again, thank you.

  • amy

    I can see this is a meaningful post for you, I’m glad you feel fufilled in your faith. I’ll keep reading because even though I don’t believe in being Saved, finding Jesus or God’s will I do believe in friendship. It’s funny to think how our friendship started in your “gloomy” period — perhaps if you’d been more observant then you would have been running with the Young Life crowd and we would never have become friends at all.

  • Gorgeous Mopsy. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • This is something I’m struggling with (again). I admire people who have a gift for faith. I’ve never “fallen away” because I am a rule-keeper, but I am a questioner and a doubter and I never feel settled. I hope someday I can write something like that and mean it.

  • I will never ever ever grow tired of hearing how the grace of God moves in people’s lives. He is so good.
    Bless you for sharing your testimony here.

  • Ah, Mopsy, I read you because you are a Christian, and a beautiful example of godly motherhood. Plus you are an eloquent and stunning writer.
    o glad you shared your story.

  • I have had a rough year with a prodigal child. It’s such a comfort to be reminded, once again, that she may be running, but the Great Shepherd is following her, the Hound of Heaven is pursuing her. I hold on to that, and am encouraged. Thank you for being part of that reassurance today. I plan to keep reading!


  • Aw Gretchen! Thank you so much for sharing your testimony. Your mom sounds a lot like mine (big surprise).

    He will not allow us to stay the same…and how grateful I am for that! Praise Jesus for His hold on us.

  • I loved this post! (I found you through creaturebug) I cried when I read the part about how faithful your Mom was. It was such a good reminder of how important my daily walk is, not only for my relationship with the Lord, but for my daughter’s! I appriciate your boldness in sharing your testimony with all of your readers. It sounds like you have some unsaved, and you are planting seeds! Thanks again for an awesome post! (and the tutu’s are adorable!)

  • Thanks for sharing your testimony. I love hearing about our Lord’s amazing grace, how He reaches down into each of our lives. How wonderful that once we step into this grace, He holds onto us and never lets us go.

    It’s funny, in August of 2006, I shared a sort of testimony also.

  • A wonderful testimony, Mopsy, and similar in many ways to my own. God Bless you and keep you!

  • Shayne

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Gretchen! You are one of the women in my life that is a role model for me as a Christian woman, a woman of faith. I love to hear about people’s faith journeys. May God continue to bless you!

  • darthulianne

    You have ministered to me in this writing. Thankyou. I respect and admire your journey as a woman of faith. Your writing is a lovely gift and you are using it for His glory.

    We are both redeemed in a profound way. loving you in Christ, Darthulianne

  • Jodi

    Gretchen, I admire you so much. I have always been able to tell you were a Christian just by “listening” to everything you say. You make such an impact on so many people. I strive to be a mother to my children the way you are to yours.

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony.

  • Phyllis


    Very eloquent…brought me to tears actually. I am so thankful that He DOES pursue prodigals. And I was reminded of how the faithful prayers and testimonies of our parents can shape our lives.

    I visited Denver once when I was very little. I remember Casa Bonita very well. =) Neat to hear that they are still around.



  • “The Hound of Heaven” is one of my favourite poems – it’s a perfect description of the pursuit of the Holy Spirit, not only to the point of conversion but also afterwards. I have drifted away at many points in my life, but He never has.

  • Wow! Our paths are all different but lead to the same loving merciful God. This was beautifully expressed, sincere, and REAL (vs religious sounding, blech!) It’s so important that people tell their stories and you did it in such a non-threatening way.

  • I don’t know how in the world I missed this post before, but it’s so timely (now) that I am reading it because I’ve been struggling to write something similar, but not the same, but just in the same vein maybe. This helps so much.


  • deb

    Thank you for sharing this –
    I just discovered your blog and spent a few minutes reading.

  • Art Blankenship

    I am a long time friend and admirer of your mother – one of her former pastors, and proud to say so. I miss her at my new church so much sometimes, even though it is just across town from her.

    She is a truly great great (repeat endlessly) woman. Had not read your blog in years and just thought of you and your husband yesterday (and your Mom).

    And I still remember Aiden falling into the pit of balls at Kidzplex. Now there’s a memory for you.


  • Art Blankenship

    I am too technologically inept to know what to do to get my above note to you. So I will fill in something in here as well.

  • Wow. All this time I’ve been reading you and I somehow MISSED this post. Beautiful – so we’re sisters after all. 🙂

  • This was touching and beautifully written.
    I can certainly relate to your life story.
    Glad I found you today, although I’m pretty sure I was Divinely guided your way.

    Okie Sister’s last blog post..ATM Karmas Gonna Get You

  • Ah, wonderful, lovely, MOVING writing. It’s the kind where you finish a post, sigh, and go find some more. Thank you for sharing this!

    Lenae’s last blog post..In search of a smaller Lenae.

  • well said…amen, the hounds of heaven…He pursues and wins us!!!! Yay for Him, yay for us!

    blessings sweet sister

  • I wonder how many mom’s hearts have turned to the Lord out of love for her child and her desire for him or her to have a better life than she.

    It was my desire, too, for my firstborn son to grow up in a “good atmosphere” that drove me to church. God has given me so much more since that day 19 years ago when we took our 6 month old son to church, dropped him off in the nursery, and I received Jesus.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to reading your blog.
    God bless,

    Dorci’s last blog post..The “Be-Attitudes” Part 8

  • I’m s-l-o-w-l-y making my way through all of the MHM bloggers. I know your face from a couple of events and I am so glad to hear your testimony of faith! I am a sinner saved by grace and married to a pastor. Christ is our life. It’s so exciting to hear of other moms working to live out their faith in community and raising Godly children.

    Hope to officially meet you sometime in the fall when events start up again!

  • LG

    Thanks for sharing your story. good to hear. Blessings!

  • the other ed

    I just found yourblog today. Awesome. My wife and I have 7 children, and are considering an eighth. Your story of faith found and love given is a good one

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